When a friend posted on Facebook that he was having trouble with “floaters” (those pesky spots that appear in some people’s line of vision) one respondent quipped that they both apparently had reached the age where “it’s always something.”

Ain’t that the truth?

I don’t even have to know how old they are. We’re just talking about “that age.”

As I lay on an examining table a few years ago, undergoing a minor procedure, I said to the technician, “It seems like since I’ve turned 50, it’s one thing after another.”

“Oh, it was 40 for me,” she said.

Wow. I don’t believe my mother reached “that age” until she was 80. But maybe I’m just thinking of the serious ailments. After all, knock on wood, my list is relatively minor. It’s just a bit long.

Part of the problem is that doctors have a tendency to unearth health issues. So, once you start visiting your physician regularly, you can be sure that you will learn there is something wrong with you. Perhaps many things.

Since many of us avoid doctors until we reach “that age,” it naturally seems as if “it’s one thing after another.”

For example, I rarely saw my doctor until a potentially serious issue sprung up when I was 51. It turned out to be nothing, but my examination revealed a thyroid nodule. That was benign, but it took me months of worrying and tests to find that out, and now I have my own personal endocrinologist, as well as a prescription for thyroid medication.

Another reason we feel that things are falling apart in middle age is that they are. To a certain degree, that is. I would put my adventures with carpal tunnel syndrome in this category. That was a result of too much wear and tear on the old wrists, plain and simple.

I also have become quite nearsighted after years of perfect vision. Not farsighted like most people — no, I can still read the tiny print. I just don’t know who you are if you are more than 150 feet away from me and I am not wearing my specs. This is likely due to long hours spent on the computer, the iPad, the iPhone, etc.

I try to spend time staring out into the distance to strengthen my eyes, looking for ships coming into the harbor or squirrels to shoot out of trees like people did in the olden days, but the beep that signals I have incoming mail keeps distracting me.

Then there are our friends and relations, who are having issues of their own. I had never heard of the acoustic neuroma when a good friend was diagnosed with it a few years ago. Then a friend of a friend developed the same kind of benign brain tumor. That was unsettling. It practically constituted an epidemic in my social circle.

When our contemporaries develop serious illnesses and when some, tragically, die, we can’t help but contemplate our own mortality. We are no longer teenagers who don’t believe leukemia or a drunken-driving accident will ever happen to us.

We know very well that it can. It is happening all around us. The very definition of middle age is that our lives are likely half over.

Or more. If I persist in thinking I’m in the middle, I’m assuming that I’m on track to be the oldest woman ever recorded.


These sorts of thoughts send us to the doctor for complaints that we might have ignored when we were 35. I am constantly pointing out skin spots to my long-suffering doctor. I’ve had a profusion of freckles all my life, but now some of them are looking rather ominous. And since I’m at that age …

So far, so good, regarding the moles and keratoses. But it certainly adds to the feeling of “one thing after another” when the darn things have to be frozen off and biopsied.

I’m not complaining. I’m grateful to have good health care, even though for weeks I feel like I’m making the rounds of every specialist in town. Better safe than sorry, I say — now that I’ve reached that age.

Floaters, though, are one thing that I don’t associate with my decrepitude. That’s because I’ve had them since I was in my 20s. I believe they appeared after I had a fall down a flight of stairs that resulted in a gash to the back of my head that required seven stitches. Needless to say, at the time I was only worried about the fact that I couldn’t wash my hair for several days.

Ah, those were the days.

Liz Soares welcomes email at [email protected]